For Wonder Woman's 75th birthday, the character got a superhero-sized gift, and was named an ambassador to the United Nations.
On Friday, Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s TV series and Gal Gadot, who will bring the iconic superhero to the big screen next summer, were on hand to watch U.N. officials bestow the superhero with the title of Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
But it was a bumpy reception. Some deemed Wonder Woman too sexualized a figure for such a post, and an online petition, started by U.N. staffers protesting the decision, had collected 1,275 signatures by Friday afternoon.
The petition read: "Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent 'warrior' woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a 'pin-up' girl."
According to the Associated Press, 50 U.N. staffers went inside the Economic and Social Council chamber and silently turned their back to the stage during the opening speech at the ceremony. Some had their fists in the air.
For some, Wonder Woman's appointment compounded dismay at the U.N.'s recent, unanimous appointment of Antonio Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, to replace Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he steps down at the end of this year. Of the 13 candidates for the job, seven were women, and many thought a female candidate should be chosen for the first time in U.N. history.
In her U.N. speech Friday, Time reports Carter highlighted Wonder Woman's value, calling the character “real. She lives and she breathes. I know this because she lives in me. She lives in the stories that women tell me day in and day out,” she continued. “Wonder Woman helps being out the inner strength every woman has.”
But she also acknowledge those protesting. “Please embrace her," said Carter. "To all those who don’t think it’s a good idea, stand up and be counted.”
Gadot, who gave fans a glimpse of her take on Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman, recently told USA TODAY she normally doesn't pay attention to movie reviews, but with this upcoming film, she feels a different pressure to deliver a special experience for fans. "Because it’s such a special and iconic character, I do feel the responsibility and, so many people care so much about this character," she said.
The superheroine's image will be used by the U.N. on social media platforms to promote women's empowerment and put a spotlight on gender-based violence.
This isn't the first time the U.N. joined forces with pop culture. Honorary ambassadors (as opposed to goodwill ambassadors like Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway) are fictional characters, and the U.N. previously tapped Winnie the Pooh to be an honorary Ambassador of Friendship in 1998 and Tinker Bell as the honorary Ambassador of Green in 2009.
In March, the U.N. utilized a promotion with Angry Birds, tapping the character Red (the leader of the birds) as an envoy to tackle climate change.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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